Introducing Monkeybutt Ruby

I didn’t think I’d be posting again so soon after completing my story last week (although I had my suspicions…..). I am just sooooo excited. I have a new Monkeybutt sister!!!!!!!  I am so proud of my mum. I was really worried that she would sink into a deep depression when I was gone. She still cries too much but that’s the way she is. Tears are as natural to her as barking is to me. It saddens me to think that my going has caused her so much unhappiness. That’s why I’ve stuck around… to make sure she is OK. My step dad has been a wonderful support to her but I know what a handful she can be and that sometimes only the touch of a furry paw and wet nose will do.

I was scared that mum would close off her heart and refuse to love again. So it is with much pleasure and excitement that I now introduce my new sister, Monkeybutt Ruby.


Ruby is a 10 year old rescue dog, an Australian cattle cross stumpy. She is missing a tail, just like me!  Mum first saw her picture in the local rescue magazine over four months ago (while I was still in my body….. how rude……well, actually…. I like to think that I picked her out for mum). Mum hasn’t been able to get Ruby out of her mind. There was just something about Ruby that called to mum and mum could see some of my cheekiness hiding in Ruby’s tired, sad face. She found out that Ruby still hadn’t found a home so she made an appointment to go and meet her, still feeling a little unsure, wondering if it was still too soon, whether I’d be OK with it. But when she was given a lead with “Call me Princess” printed on it to take Ruby for a walk she knew that it was meant to be.  It was fate.

Mum felt there had to be a reason for God calling me away before my time and it has really bothered her as she tries to make sense of it all. She came to the conclusion that it was because my earthly job was done. I’d opened her heart and shown her what was important in life and how to live it to the fullest. Now it was mum’s turn to give back to another doggie, a doggie who hasn’t known the love and warmth that I knew, and who can live out her twilight years with comfort and dignity and most importantly lots of love.

Ruby is “almost” as beautiful as me! I know she will never take my place in mum’s heart. I was mum’s first love. But, with the love that mum and I shared mum’s heart has grown bigger and now there is more than enough room in there for Ruby as well as me and my step dad (I have to mention him because he gets a bit insecure about all the doggie love). And I couldn’t be happier for her. I’ll still be keeping an eye on mum but I can now get on with having fun and wreaking havoc here at Rainbow Bridge knowing that she is going to be OK.

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My last day

This is the last chapter of my earthly life, bringing us full circle.  While it has been a sad and difficult chapter to write, it is also a chapter full of warmth and everlasting love.  My memoirs would not have been complete without it.  

No-one knows when their last day will be or how it will transpire.  I certainly didn’t. But, despite all of the doubts that plagued mum afterwards, we both know that we were very blessed to have had a wonderful last few hours together. 

One week before my spirit was set free mum took me to a physio and got me a harness.  The physio gave me the most wonderful massage and I slept so well that night and the following night.  Unfortunately I started feeling unwell in my tummy and I had a repeat of tummy problems the next night (Monday) with blood in my stools.  Mum rang the oncologist who said to stop the piroxicam and give me the tummy meds.  That was my fifth last night on earth. Mum cuddled me as I slept and tried to comfort me as she felt every gurgle in my tummy and every whimper.

During my final few days my tummy started to get better but the pain in my hip was getting worse. Mum picked me up from dad on the evening of Friday 4th May. I had been at the park and was very weary and in pain. Mum was shocked at how I looked and helped me into the car as fear began to take hold of her. On the 20 minute drive home mum called our vet and our oncologist. As soon as we got home I took the shortest route to the house (which meant going up 3 steps) and collapsed on my bed in the loungeroom. Mum gave me a Tramadol (it was 6pm) and within an hour I felt a bit better.

My last night with mum

But, about 4 hours later I felt uncomfortable and was in pain. Mum gave me another Tramadol at 2am but it didn’t seem to have any impact. I was in too much pain. Mum kept cuddling me but I couldn’t get comfortable. Mum could also feel and hear a strange “popping” noise in my chest.

When mum left me to go to the bathroom I would start crying. I didn’t want to be left alone. I was scared and in pain. It really upset mum because I had never ever cried before. My step dad stayed with me while mum had a shower.

Last cuddles with my step dad

Mum decided that we would need to go to the hospital and try and get some stronger pain meds like morphine or something, anything! By this time (7.30am) I was sitting comfortably at the window surveying my territory, looking very weary but still very much like a dog who wanted to live.

My last look out the window

I grumbled a lot when mum asked me to get up but I did as I was told and made it to the car (it was such a struggle but thank God for the harness. It made it so easy). I kept looking at mum in the car, intently watching her, saying “please fix this mum”. At the hospital carpark I did a huge wee which went on for ages and I accidentally got it all over mum’s shoe. Not that she minded. I made my way into the emergency department and sat down on a bed that mum and my step dad had brought with them. I wasn’t scared of the emergency vets, in fact I was relieved to be there. I knew they could fix my pain.

The vet wanted to do xrays and blood work. Mum didn’t want to leave me but she was promised that they wouldn’t put me in a cage but would let me sit on a bed out with the nurses so that I wouldn’t feel alone. My step dad gave me an affectionate pat on the head and mum gave me her usual big cuddle and kiss. Neither mum nor my step dad thought that I wouldn’t be coming home again.

I knew the hospital would fix my pain.

About 3 hours later mum got the news she was dreading. I had lesions on my hip and one of them was very large. Mum called my dad and they both arrived at the hospital to be told that the best thing for me would be for me to go to sleep there and then. Mum wanted the vet to give me extra pain relief and let me go home so that our vet could help set me free from my pain on the Monday. But the emergency vet was very concerned saying that I was at risk of my hip/pelvis fracturing and that it would be catastrophic for me if that happened. Mum felt trapped. She always said that she would put my needs ahead of hers and now that she knew what she knew she couldn’t ignore it. We had come to the end of the line.

The hospital gave us a quiet room to ourselves and told us to take as much time as we needed to say goodbye. We spent nearly 3 hours together, just mum, dad and I. We played with the ball, creating lots of noise as I growled and enjoyed myself throwing it in a seated position to dad. I then spent ages being cuddled and kissed by mum. The nurse also came in with lots of yummy chicken and liver treats. I was so happy. I was with the people I loved more than anything in the world and I had my mum’s arms cuddled around me. I felt safe and contented.

My last play with the ball

Eventually I wore myself out so I lay back in mum’s arms and enjoyed the feel of her wrapped around me. It was after 3pm and mum realised that I was soon going to need to do poops and that it would be too cruel to make me get up again so it was time to say goodbye. Dad said goodbye with tears running down his face and then left the room. I sat up concerned about why he was unhappy. But mum said it was OK and laid me back down again in her arms. It felt so good to be snuggled up to mum that I didn’t worry too much more.

Soon after dad left the vet came in with a big syringe. Mum said that the vet was going to give me some medicine and then we could go home. I wasn’t worried, I knew I was safe with my mum. The vet had already put a catheter in my leg so it was no disruption for her to hook up the syringe. Mum’s face hovered near mine. She kept caressing my face and kissing me and telling me how beautiful I was and how much she loved me. The nurse also stayed and she was holding my back paw and patting me. I was so relaxed and contented. I had half an eye on mum and half an eye on the vet. Mum saw my eyes glaze over as I shed my mortal coil. She saw the last puff of breath from my lungs. She hugged my body, stroked and kissed me one last time and howled as she finally released the tears that she had held at bay. I wanted to stay and comfort her but it was so good to be free of pain, I couldn’t believe how wonderful I felt. I just kept soaring, out of that room and into a wonderful light.

Later on our vet would tell mum that he and the oncologist both agreed that the timing of my departure from my physical body was pretty much perfect for me.

It has been a wonderful life. I will love you always.

Mum and I shared a special, once in a life time connection.  Our mutual love and devotion was second to none and will live on forever.

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When the nasty mets showed up

 The last six weeks in my earthly body were tough.  Hopefully this blog post will give others some insight into my experience – how mets showed up in me, and what worked and what didn’t work.  This blog is a bit long (sorry, it’s even longer than my usual ramblings) so I’ve tried to break it up into logical sections to help you read or skim through it.

Our oncologist told mum that while the cancer typically shows up in the lungs it can turn up anywhere and she should be ready for anything. That certainly narrowed it down!

Hip/Leg starts to hurt…

At 6 months post amputation and 6 weeks after I had finished chemo, I began showing signs of bone mets although we didn’t know it was bone mets at the time.  Mum noticed that my gait changed and I was putting my remaining back leg directly underneath me instead of into the middle. I also started to slow down and our walks became shorter and shorter.

Six months post amputation. This was the last time I chased the ball in the park.


Suddenly ravenous…

It was also around this time that I became ravenous.  I lost a little bit of weight (about 500g) but mum and dad increased my food and managed to stop any further loss.  Our oncologist didn’t seem to be concerned but mum was.  It could have been due to the increased fun (lots of river and beach visits) but there is no doubt in mum’s mind that the change in appetite was a sign that the cancer was on the move.   I also developed a small sore (pea sized) on my foot around this time that would prove difficult to heal over the remaining two months.

Lung mets show up…

At 6.5 months I went for standard xrays where 3 mets were found in my lungs (2x2cm and 1x3cm).  Mum was shattered.   I was still very happy BUT I must admit I was feeling a little bit weary and I know that mum saw it in my eyes.  The oncologist gave us a 6 month prognosis as he started me on metronomic Palladia.  But mum mentally prepared herself for 3 months at best. She knew in her heart that time was fast running out.  Little did we know that it would end up being only 6 weeks!

The mets in my lungs mustn’t have grown too much.  I only had the occasional cough (mum even remembered seeing me cough at the 3 month mark when my lungs were still technically clear) and there was one occasion where I had three little coughs in a row.

At the hospital finding out the mets have shown up in my lungs

 Palladia – would we do it again?  Maybe

I had some diarrhoea with Palladia and I tended to pant and whine a lot more at night and there were some episodes of bad breath as well. Mum put some of it down to pain in my back leg but in hindsight it was probably the Palladia.  After 4 weeks on Palladia the mets hadn’t grown very much BUT I had a terrible tummy upset – diarrhoea, bloody stools, refusal to eat for a couple of days.  I was in terrible pain for several days.  I spent one night in hospital because the vets were worried about me not eating but scans gave my tummy the all clear on the cancer front.

A few days later I was back at the vets because I wouldn’t put weight on my back leg.  I was shaking with fear when I went back to the vet. Mum and dad were so upset to see me scared like that.

It was horrible and I know that it still upsets mum too much to even write about it still.  She feels that she let me down terribly.  Mum forgets that the Palladia was meant to give me more time and that she put me on it in good faith.  Unfortunately it ended up making my last month pretty uncomfortable and my last two weeks quite miserable.  It still breaks mum’s heart.  We were given meds to protect my tummy but it was too lateBecause I handled chemo so well mum feels she was too complacent about the Palladia.

If anyone else considers Palladia please make sure you take something to protect the tummy and be vigilant about signs like whining , panting  and bad breath.  

Definitely not feeling well

Bone mets were unmerciful…

Mum had requested xrays of my back leg when I had the lung xrays but they weren’t done. I didn’t need any sedation when they did my lungs so they didn’t want to subject me to it to get the leg done. Mum wasn’t very happy about it.  She suspected that there was cancer in either my back leg or the hip and she wanted to know for sure what was going on.  The oncologist told her that even if there were bone mets it wouldn’t change the treatment protocol so she accepted it. 

I progressively put less and less weight on my back leg and our walks became shorter and shorter. Getting in and out of the car via the ramp was also a chore as it became increasingly difficult for me to get up without my hip hurting.  Mum would often bring my food and water bowls to me so that I didn’t have to get up.  I spent many glorious hours sitting at the loungeroom window watching the road.

During the last three weeks mum and dad changed their shared custody arrangement to every few days instead of every 2 weeks as they did their best to minimise the time I was left alone and so that neither of them would be away from me for too long.  And during my last two weeks the pain in my hip meant I no longer wanted to use the ramp to the bed so mum and I slept on a mattress in the loungeroom. 

Breakfast in bed


I had a strange lump develop on my upper back but it didn’t cause me any obvious discomfort. It was a bit bigger than a marble and very hard.  We don’t know what it was but it is very likely that it was some sort of cancer.

Pain meds…

My standard pain meds were piroxicam, amantadine and paracetamol/codeine (and I was also taking glucosamine/chondroiton and MSM).  In the last five days I was taken off piroxicam because of the tummy upsets.  I wasn’t with mum from the Tuesday to Friday and I know it tears her apart when she realises that I wasn’t getting enough pain meds during that time.


It has been hard for mum to help me write this part of my journey. Consulting her diary has been particularly difficult as we try to distil the critical information and not dwell on the despair and pain that covers the pages of my last six weeks.  We fought so hard to hold off the cancer.  Mum knows that I still wanted to live and that despite the pain I endured we still had some good quality time together as we sat in the park each day and cuddled up in bed at night.  We spent countless hours together, making the most of what time we had left.

Very soon I will write about the last day.  It’s best to get it over and done with because I know it is going to be very traumatic for mum.

Precious moments together

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Living with Cancer

Once I became a tripawd I got extra loving from my mum and step dad and my dad.  And of course I got to go out every day to the nearby parks and meet my friends just like I did before I lost my leg. The first month was a bit hard but once I came off the pain meds I started to fire on all cylinders again and after two months I was back to chasing my ball in the park.

As much as I loved going to the parks, marking and surveying my territory, there is nothing like going to the beach or the river and chasing my ball. That is just the best fun in the world and my first time doing that as a tripawd was during the Christmas/New Year break, almost 4 months after my amputation.   At that time I was in between my fifth and sixth chemo treatments but that didn’t stop me from having lots of fun!!!!!

During Jan, Feb and March I got to enjoy a number of trips to the river and beach and I even had my last visit to the beach in April, just three weeks before I left for Rainbow Bridge.  Mum bought me a life jacket for that trip so that I could have fun without tiring myself out too much.

Words don’t do justice when trying to describe how much fun I had at the beach and river which is why mum has promised me that she will put together a video showing it in pictures.  She is a bit of a dinosaur when it comes to technology so I’m not sure how long it will take her to get it done but I am hoping that she will get it done in time for my six month remembrance.

So, while we wait for mum to sort out the technology here are a few happy snaps to share…..



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12 weeks since we said goodbye to our beautiful Princess

Even though the 5th August will be 3 months since we lost Magnum, I’ve still been thinking in terms of weeks and today marks 12 weeks since that heart wrenching day.  There has only been one day in all of those 12 weeks where I haven’t shed tears as I think about how much I love my little girl, how much I miss her and how much I wish we could have had more time together.

I know that Magnum is watching over me, continuing to guard and protect me as she always did.  I had the most surreal experience a few weeks ago when I could feel her spirit enveloping me, warming and hugging me when I was particularly down about other things that were going on in my life. I felt so loved and safe.

But I’d still give anything to kiss and hug her warm, furry, flesh and blood body just one more time.

My grief is still quite raw, bubbling to the surface far too often.  But, I do feel a little more at peace now than I did after one month and I have been able to actually smile and laugh as I remember some of Magnum’s cute and silly antics and expressions.  And yet I am still taken aback by how much I miss my little girl, how much my heart still aches and how empty life is without her in it.

Regrets still come back to haunt me from time to time and have been especially noisy in the last few weeks.  Every time I feel myself slipping I try to remember that no matter what, Magnum knew that she was loved and safe.

Thank you to Rene and Jim and everyone at Tripawds for being here. I wish I had sought the warmth and knowledge of this community at the beginning of Magnum’s journey.  But, no looking backwards, I found my way to you towards the end and thank Dog I did.  Helping Magnum write her memoirs and being able to be a part of this community has been and continues to be a critical part of my healing process. No-one else understands like you guys do!

Please keep Magnum in your thoughts today and give your doggies extra kisses and cuddles for us tonight.

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Doing Chemo

There was an upside to chemo. Yep, really, and quite a big one! I got to sit in the car with the window right down so that I could stick my head fully out of it as we drove along.  It was something I had never been allowed to do in the past. I loved it!  Of course I wasn’t so keen about the nausea part.  I never vomited but I came close once so mum learned to drive a lot more responsibly to make it more comfortable for me. And she let me keep sticking my head out the window even when chemo was finished!

You just watch the road mum, I’ve got the perimeter covered…

I did six doses of Carboplatin, nominally three weeks apart although a couple of times were delayed by one week due to low WBC count.   It did make me a little bit tired and nauseous and I got a little bit of diarrhoea but symptoms generally only lasted for one to three days (except for the car nausea which was with me all the time I was doing chemo and a tendency to be a bit pickier with my food).

I started chemo two weeks after my amputation.  I was still staying with dad so we met mum at the hospital. I was absolutely ecstatic to see mum, smothering her in wet kisses and rubbing against her looking lovingly and intently into her eyes telling her “please look after me Mum. I know something isn’t right and I trust you to make sure I am looked after. I adore you Mum.”  Mum says this look had some uncomfortable similarities to the look I was giving her in my last days.

The oncologist initially wanted to put me on Doxyrubicin because there was a small chance that I had hemangiosarcoma and not osteosarcoma and the final test results were still not available.  But, after finding my heart function to be a little below normal (don’t know why and we had bigger things to worry about than to explore that one any further at the time) he opted for Carboplatin.

Some observations to share from my chemo experience ….

–          I loved going to see the oncologist for the first couple of treatments. I always got lots of cuddles and treats.  But, from chemo no. 3.  I started becoming more reluctant to go out the back with the nurse. Mum had to accompany me.

–          When it came to chemo no.6 I didn’t even want to go into the oncology building at all, just the building where I lost my leg.  That wasn’t near as scary as the oncology building. I’d had enough of chemo. Although, once there was no getting out of it I made the most of it and turned on my charm, gifting the staff with lots of my famous smiles.

–          Mum was a bit slow to pick up on my nausea but when she did the anti-nausea tablets soon did the trick.

–          Between chemo no. 4 and no. 5 I became a lot more clingy and I also had some episodes of bad breath that the vets couldn’t explain. Mum wonders if it was pain??

–          Mum never gave me any bones while I was doing chemo but she gave me a pig’s ear once.  I vomited and got diarrhoea.  She felt like a very bad mum when she realised it was not the smartest thing to have given me.

–          The 5th and 6th chemo treatments were the hardest. They knocked me around the most. But, having said that, it was after chemo no.5 that I got the chance to go to the river and beach and I sure didn’t let it slow me down there (more about that another time).

The day of my 6th and final chemo treatment. Yeh!

I was one of the lucky ones with chemo, my quality of life was still pretty good although there is no denying that I had become a little fearful of the oncology centre by the end of the treatment (even though I was all smiles once mum had gone).  This bothered my mum a lot but on balance she still feels it was worth doing the chemo. She had been told that I would only get 4 to 6 months without chemo  instead of 10 to 12 months with it. In the end I only got 8 months.  But still, if we hadn’t given chemo a go mum would always have wondered and knowing my mum she would have been having lots of nasty regrets, lots of “what ifs” and “if onlys”.  She already has enough of them to torture herself without adding to the list.

Even though my lungs were clear at amputation that nasty cancer was already growing and spreading through my body.  But we think the chemo slowed it up a little bit and gave us more quality time together than we would have had without it.  It was the right decision for us and our particular journey.

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Learning to live in the “now”

When I finally got to go home with mum one month after my amputation I was beside myself with excitement. I raced across the grass to greet her with such proficiency that you’d swear I had always had three legs. Mum took me to my two favourite parks near our house where I proudly marked my territory with the customary pee (fyi, princesses pee like boy dogs, cocking their leg.  This must be true because that’s how I pee and I am a princess).

It’s a bit hard to see but I am lifting my stump to pee

I accompanied my peeing with lots of foot scraping and vocalizing to let all the other dogs know I was back, that I was still top dog and that they better not forget it. The vocalizing surprised mum. She hadn’t heard me do that before. I couldn’t help myself, I was so happy to be back home, to be pain free and drug free AND I wanted to make my return very clear to everyone. The Princess was back!!!

I am back and this is my park!

I had a bit of trouble using the ramp to the bed but with mum’s help I managed to get up onto it. It was heaven to curl up next to mum that first night. We had a glorious weekend of walking and long rests in the park. My step dad was away for the weekend so I got mum’s full attention. I spent many hours getting patted and cuddled. I don’t normally like too much fussing but after the last month I could think of nothing better than being pampered by my mum and since she loved being able to lavish all that attention on me who was I to deny her that pleasure?

Don’t go too far away mum

After about a week of mum’s caresses I was feeling so good that I didn’t need to cling to her as much anymore so I started shrugging them off.  I know mum missed it but she was pleased to see me getting back to my normal cocky and aloof self.  Having said that, I knew that I wasn’t as strong and invincible as before the operation so I found myself looking to mum for more comfort, reassurance and protection than I had in the past.

We started to get into a routine that would become a familiar pattern in the months ahead. We would walk to one of my favourite two parks and then sit there for as long as mum would let me so that I could survey my territory and meet some of my doggie friends. We spent hours sitting together, sometimes in companionable silence and sometimes cuddling. It was special time together that we will always be grateful for. Eventually we would either walk home or get picked up by my step dad. Some days mum would say that my step dad wasn’t coming and we would have to walk home by ourselves but I knew that if we waited long enough he would come to pick us up. He always did!

I’m still not 100% sure of myself but it feels so good to be alive.

There were days when I felt like going for longer walks and I could usually talk mum into letting me. I knew that if I gave mum my best sad eyes she would eventually cave in. Unfortunately, I would usually pay for it by being a bit stiff and sore for the next couple of days! After a few months I also started chasing my ball and going to the beach and river but I’ll talk more about that another time.

I could sense a difference in mum after the amputation. I could see that she was trying much harder to be “dog”, to live in the moment and enjoy our time together without dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. I know she was very proud of me but I was also very proud of her.

I had to be careful not to take advantage of mum’s new outlook on life. She made spending time with me her number one priority and my step dad supported her all the way. Nothing was too much trouble. They declined many opportunities to go out (unless I was invited too), never roused on me, never complained about me keeping them awake at night or making a mess or refusing to walk home. They just loved me and revelled in the time that we had together. During the extra time that we had the love between mum and I deepened and our bond became even stronger. I might have had a cancer that would shorten my life but I was also the luckiest dog in the world. I loved my mum unconditionally and I knew that she loved me unconditionally too.


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The day I became a Tripawd

My reminiscing continues….. It’s been just over ten months since I became a Tripawd.  Mum thinks I was too high on the drugs to remember much about the amputation. She’s just jealous. Of course I can remember it.  I was blissfully pain free and I was treated like a princess by all the wonderful staff at the hospital.

Of course while I was out to it and having my leg taken off mum was sitting by the phone hoping it didn’t ring too early.  The surgeon had told her that they would xray my lungs and if there were no mets they would proceed with amputation.  They rang mum in the early afternoon to tell her the xray had been clear and that I had come through the surgery really well and was comfortable in recovery.  I slept through most of that day and night.

The second day after my amputation. I was still feeling a bit hungover.

Check out that incision. How good are those dissolvable stitches????

Mum wasn’t allowed to visit me until the next day. I surprised her by bounding in with my usual enthusiasm, dragging along the two attendants who were attempting to support my back leg. I was a bit wobbly but given that I still had the effects of an epidural in my system I think I did pretty well for myself.  Mum nearly had a heart attack at the way my back leg bent at an unnatural angle.

I stayed in hospital for four nights after the surgery.  The hospital staff praised me for how quickly and easily I adjusted to three legs and of course, as to be expected, I won them over with my cheeky and bubbly personality.  Mum and dad visited me for about an hour each day.  I was so excited and happy to see them although I did tire quite quickly.   I was on morphine for the pain but by the time I was discharged I was on Tramadol and Rimadyl.  I stayed on them for another two weeks.

Me 3 days after amputation. What do you mean I have to wait until tomorrow to go home? I’m ready now!

Mum says she still doesn’t fully understand how the cancer was “graded” but her understanding is that I had an aggressive, high grade tumour ((high mitotic rate of 39 per HPF) but my phosphatase levels were normal and the chest xrays were clear. Mum was naively optimistic that I would at least make the 12 month median prognosis.    There was some suggestion that I might have Telangiectatic osteosarcoma, a very aggressive form, but I’m not sure if that was confirmed because I was always given a prognosis of 10 to 12 months whereas Telangiectatic osteosarcoma has a prognosis of 6 to 8 months (and interestingly, also commonly spreads to other bones!!!).

The hardest part for mum was letting me go home with dad after I was discharged from hospital.  I had always been with mum while recuperating from other operations.  But it was dad’s turn to have me AND he could be home with me 24 hrs a day for three weeks.  Mum couldn’t.  It made sense because I wouldn’t be alone and especially because I refuse, I mean absolutely REFUSE to wear the cone of shame. It does not become me! I am a Princess!!! But mum was very unhappy.   I know she wanted to be able to look after me and fuss over me. I would have preferred that too but I was really too drugged out to care where I went as long as it was out of the hospital.  I loved all the people there and they fussed over me a lot but there is still no place like home!

I was ecstatic to go home and stood in the back seat pressed up against mum who was supporting me.  The drive back to dad’s home took its toll on me (only about a 30 minute drive) but despite the exhaustion I still couldn’t wait to sniff and mark my territory as soon as I got out of the car!

Not the clearest photo as I pin mum up against the back seat.

The first couple of weeks were the hardest.  I did whine a little from the pain and I was off my food a bit and of course I slept a lot.  Much to dad’s surprise I preferred to lie on the incision side.  He didn’t understand why.  Within a few days of being home I did start being a bit naughty and harassing my dad to let me go for a walk even though the doctors had told him I needed to stay confined.  I was sooooo bored, perking up a bit in the afternoons, keen to know what was going on outside. So he finally relented and we would visit the park on a regular basis and sit there and watch the world go by.

Yeh, I’m at the park but oh boy this Tramadol makes me feel yuk!

I saw mum a few times at the park during my recuperation.  I was very happy to see her but I know it was breaking her heart to see me looking so forlorn and vulnerable. A lot of that was the drugs. Once I stopped taking the Tramadol (about 3 weeks after the amputation) I started to feel much more like my feisty self again and my appetite fully returned.

I missed having mum to fuss over me while I was feeling unwell and I know she missed being able to fuss over me.  She cried every day from the day we got the news about my cancer until the day I finally went home to be with her one month later. That was a joyous reunion (but more about that in my next ramblings…)

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I’m so sorry but I think your dog has osteosarcoma…

…The nice man’s voice trailed off as mum let out a gasp of horror and began to cry. Those few words changed our lives forever.

It’s now time to talk about the difficult stuff, the stuff that I know is still hard for my mum.  It feels like only yesterday that we found out I had cancer…………

Mum returned from her honeymoon to the news that I had hurt my back left leg. My dad thought it was from tripping over some rubbish in the back yard as I chased possums. Mum took me to the vet on Friday 22nd July 2011. The vet thought it might be a cruciate ligament but she couldn’t be sure and suggested an xray.

After discussing it with dad neither of them thought it was my cruciate ligament so mum got a second opinion.  The second vet didn’t think I needed an xray and put me on Rimadyl and strict rest. He thought the problem was with my hips and that made more sense to mum and dad than the cruciate ligament diagnosis.  With the Rimadyl and rest I seemed to get better before having a relapse.  With further rest I began improving again only to have a second relapse a week or so later. My vet saw me during this time and was giving me weekly Cartrophen injections.  Of course I did my best to pretend that I wasn’t in any pain even though the constant ache was beginning to take its toll on me.  Crunch time came when I fell while mum was towelling me dry after a bath.  I couldn’t help but scream out in pain, it was excruciating.  Poor mum was beside herself, feeling so helpless.  The worst of it only lasted for about 30 seconds but I know my screams still haunt mum today.

Mum knew that something needed to be done so our vet referred us to a specialist. We had to wait almost two weeks to see him so mum started researching wheel chairs because she was convinced that arthritis and/or hip dysplasia was the problem! She told me I could be the first doggie in our area to have my own set of wheels! After the nasty fall my leg had become swollen and I no longer wanted to put any weight on it. For all intents and purposes I was already a tripawd.  It should have been a hint to mum of what was really going on but for some obscure reason that continues to haunt her the possibility of cancer was something she had not considered.

When mum and I went to see the specialist she wasn’t prepared for the diagnosis.  The specialist took less than a minute to suspect osteosarcoma and an xray confirmed it (he was 99% certain).   That was Thursday 1st September 2011, the day mum’s world collapsed around her.  I, of course, didn’t understand that I had just been given a death sentence.  I just knew that my leg was hurting and my mum was really upset.

Would an xray earlier on have detected the cancer?  Quite probably or maybe not because it was apparently fast growing.  We will never know and its best if mum keeps herself away from thinking about it.  What’s done is done. In this I wish she would be more dog because I know that she has tortured herself a lot about it.  She has always been so particular about my health and couldn’t understand why she hadn’t suspected bone cancer earlier, why our vet hadn’t suspected bone cancer.  I wish I could take away her feelings of guilt.  I know they still gnaw at her soul.

(Note from Karen – I don’t need to tell anyone who has been told “I’m so sorry but I think your dog has osteosarcoma” how devastating those few words are.  I burst into tears as the specialist delivered his news as delicately as he could.  I wrote in my diary that night, “I am shell-shocked.  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.  Why did I not realize sooner?  The guilt is overwhelming, the tears of grief gut wrenching.  I was not prepared for such news.  It was just arthritic legs and hips…. or so I thought.  She is so fit and healthy and full of life. How could she have cancer?  It isn’t fair. She loves life to the full.  I never imagined cancer taking her from me.  She is meant to grow old with me.  I am so angry.  I love her more than life itself. I feel I have let her down. I should have realized sooner that there was something sinister lurking inside.  She trusts me to look after her and I have let her down. I am inconsolable.”

 When I got home from work that fateful day Magnum was eager to go walking and I thought “what the hell!  Let her have some fun. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring”.  That night she didn’t sleep in our bed as normal. She didn’t seem to want to move from her bed on the floor. I suspect the pain in her leg had been exacerbated by the trip to the vet and getting the xray without sedation (the specialist said there had been a bit of a tussle to get Magnum’s leg in the right position for the x-ray).   I slept on the floor with her.  It was a restless night, partly because she was in pain but also I suspect because she could smell my fear (and I was drenched in it!).

 Before leaving the specialist I already knew that I would proceed with amputation.  My vet (who is a friend) had come with me to the appointment and agreed that Magnum was not a dog ready to die just yet. She still had more living to do, so much more to teach us, so much more love to give and receive.  We were not going to go down without a fight.)

My dad was overseas when I was diagnosed with osteosarcoma. He had been over there for a month.  He was due back home on 2nd Sep (a Friday) so mum opted to schedule the surgery for Mon 5th Sep and give him a couple of days with me before the operation.  I know mum was torn with her decision, feeling she was letting me down yet again.  I was glad to see dad, but it was tough.  The pain had been getting steadily worse since the fall after my bath and I had given up trying to hide it, my eyes said it all.  I wouldn’t have been able to go on much longer if it hadn’t been for the amputation.  Thank Dog that amputation was an option for us. I don’t think my mum would have been able to cope if we had had to say goodbye then. 

Me about 1 week before the big op.

 I’ll write again soon about the big op.  Strangely enough it was the easiest part of our journey. It bought us precious time together and while it wasn’t as much time as we had hoped for it was enough for mum and I to love each other and to love life like we had never loved before.


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My Life as a Monkeybutt

When I was a puppy everyone thought I was really cute and wanted to cuddle me.  But when I got bigger strangers started crossing the road to avoid me because I was a big scary rottweiler.  So I would strain at the leash because I was desperate to say hello and get a pat not knowing that I was scaring them even more!!!   But the cycle of life is a funny thing.  When I became a Tripawd people would cross the street to meet me, not get away from me, curious to know the story of my missing leg.  I will get to that story, I promise, but first, please humour me as I tell you a little bit about my life as a monkeybutt (ah, the good old days!). You see, it’s not just old dogs who can ramble on about themselves.  We spirits can be just as guilty of it! And after all, it isn’t easy to condense nine years into one single blog! So, sorry in advance for the length.  Feel free to skim over it and just “read” the pictures!

It was a cold, sunny winter’s day when I first saw my mum and dad.  I knew straight away that I wanted to be a part of their pack so I raced to greet them before any of my brothers and sisters could get to them first.  After lots of cuddles I wandered over to play with my siblings for a little while and was a bit embarrassed to find myself pinned beneath two of them.  I couldn’t beat them with brute strength so I showed off my cunning by waiting for them to lose interest and then stealing the toy that we had been fighting over.  At first I was worried that mum and dad would think I was too sneaky but then I discovered that they revelled in my intelligent and mischievous nature.  They laid claim to me that day and returned one week later to pick me up.  I was 8 weeks old.

Me at 9 weeks

My back left leg was always a bit “funny”.  Mum and dad noticed that it moved a little differently to the other leg when I ran but when they tried to point it out to our vet and other rottie owners no-one else could see it. But mum and dad could see it. Did that have anything to do with what would happen nine years later???  I know mum thinks it is more than coincidence that the nasty bone cancer should strike that “funny” leg.

Me at 3 months, chasing the ball

A few months after my second birthday I was just getting over a very scary bout of pyometra (uterine infection) when mum and dad separated.  I was devastated.  I couldn’t understand and was worried that I had done something terribly wrong.  But, it didn’t take long for me to realise that both mum and dad still loved me very much and that the problem wasn’t with me.

Just over 2 yrs, becoming a doggie from a broken home….

So for the next nearly eight years I got to have two homes.  I would generally spend two weeks with mum and then two weeks with dad.  Sometimes it seemed a bit weird but I was always a very confident and sociable dog so it wasn’t too bad.  For the most part it meant that I got extra attention from both of them as they tried to make up for their lost time with me.  Even our oncologist, who only knew me a short time, agreed that I probably thrived on the stimulation and extra attention of moving between two homes.

I was blessed with a very active life – long walks every day and trips to the beach and river whenever mum or dad could manage it.  I loved meeting other people and dogs and going to the vet.  Life was good.  My most favourite thing of all time was to chase the ball and that was something we did at every opportunity.

Mum and me on holidays. Just the 2 of us.

On holidays again with mum. Where is that ball???

My diet consisted of a commercial dry food (Supacoat) together with fresh beef and chicken wings.  I also got meaty bones, lamb shanks and pigs ears as well as liver treats and dental bone treats (rice based).  I would also occasionally be successful in begging for the odd chip, BBQ chicken or piece of ham!   I remember how Mum would often sit with me and hold the big bones for me while I chewed. That was special time that we shared together.

Why can’t I eat my bone inside the house?

I really loved my food so it was always a bit of a battle to keep my weight at the optimum level of about 42kg.  I was probably always a couple of kilos heavier than I should have been (and there was a short time when I was a good 5 kilos heavier. I was fat!).

The year I turned six (2008) mum brought a “friend” home to meet me.  He seemed harmless enough so I took myself off to bed and left them alone.  Big mistake!!! I don’t know what I was thinking!@#$%.  It wasn’t long before he was coming over ALL the time and getting in the middle of mum and me.  I tried to warn him away with my best growls but he would always call my bluff and hug me anyway.  Oh how I wanted to bite him but damn mum for teaching me my manners too well.  I had to settle with ferocious licking instead.

Asserting my position!

In my eighth year I started to slow down as arthritis began to bite.   It was also around this time that mum discovered some lumps in my mammary glands so she had them removed and I was desexed at the same time.  (In case you are wondering, I wasn’t desexed early on because mum and dad had agreed to let the breeders show me.  But, at 12 months I was retired from showing. Mum explained that I was far prettier than any of the other rotties and it wasn’t fair on them if I kept competing.  Still, I never could figure out why the best I’d ever come was sixth place? ).

The cone of shame! It didn’t last more than 10 minutes. It is not appropriate attire for a princess!

Mum and dad started me on glucosamine and omega 3 oils sometime in my seventh year.   Then when I was about eight and a half years old (the timing is a bit fuzzy) they switched to Joint Guard (glucosamine/chondroitin/MSN).  I couldn’t believe how much better I felt when they did that.   I felt years younger.

Around my ninth birthday (May 2011) mum found more mammary glands due to tumours so it was under the knife again to have them removed.  It was around this time that I started slowing up again.  Mum and dad put it down to “just arthritis”.

By this time mum’s “friend” was well and truly entrenched in our lives and soon to be my new step dad. Of course, I was very happy for mum because she was so happy.  And while I missed it just being the two of us my step dad to be was a good man who was happy to come along with us to the beach and river and take lots of photos of me showing off.

Me showing off to my step dad to be.

I love the way mum towels me dry. She is MY mum!

The 3 of us!

Life was good and we didn’t think anything could come along and spoil it for us.  What we didn’t know was that shortly after mum’s wedding in July 2011 our lives would be turned upside down by sucky cancer.  My life as a monkeybutt was nearly over.

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